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England is at the centre of the British rail network, with London being its hub. Thanks to very frequent and relatively high-speed services, you can easily travel through England by train. Since reservations are not always required on British trains, you can board any train provided you have a valid train ticket or rail pass.

Here at Trainline, we use our expertise to help you understand the way trains in England, and indeed, the UK work. Simply use our Journey Planner at the top of the page to start your search for trains in England - we'll always highlight the cheapest train tickets so you can save on your rail journey.

 

England train map

Planning your next journey around England by train but not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! Our England train map will show you some of the most popular routes in England, including journey times.

There are different train companies operating in England. For example, the route from London to Bristol (1h 19m) is served by GWR and South Western Railway, while the route from London to Norwich, which takes 1h 57m, is covered by Greater Anglia.

One of the most popular routes in England is from London to Manchester, which takes around 2h 35m on the fastest Avanti West Coast services. The first train leaves London Euston station at 05:16 and the last train departs at 23:34.

Which train companies run in England?

There are currently over 20 main national train companies that operate within England:

  • Avanti West Coast (formerly Virgin Trains), who provide services from London Euston to a number of major terminals, including Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly and Liverpool Lime Street
  • Great Western Railway (GWR), who connect London to Cornwall, Dorset, Devon and other destinations
  • East Midlands Railway, who connect London St Pancras to Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and other major cities 
  • London North Eastern Railway (LNER), who run their services from the North East and Yorkshire to the East Coast and Scotland
  • London Northwestern Railway, who connect the Midlands to the North West of England
  • Chiltern Railways, who travel from London Marylebone to Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands
  • CrossCountry, who run their services between the South West, the South Coast, the North East, Wales and Scotland
  • Grand Central Railway, who connect London Kings Cross to the North East and Yorkshire
  • c2c, who mainly connect London Liverpool and Fenchurch Street stations to Essex
  • Great Northern, who connect London to the East of England
  • Greater Anglia, who run their services between London, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire 
  • Hull Trains, who connect London King's Cross to Hull, Brough, Selby, Howden and Stevenage
  • Island Line, who mainly operate their services in the Isle of Wight
  • South Western Railway, who run their services between London Waterloo and South West London
  • Southeastern Railway, who connect central London to South East London, Kent and parts of East Sussex
  • Southern, who travel between central London and South London, East and West Sussex, Hampshire, Kent and Surrey
  • Thameslink, who run their services between Bedford and Brighton, passing through London, Luton Airport and other destinations
  • Merseyrail, who travel between the main stations in Liverpool and the metropolitan boroughs of Merseyside
  • Northern, who connect the main cities of Northern England
  • TransPennine Express, who run their services between the major cities of Northern England and Scotland
  • West Midlands Railway, who operate their services between London and the Midlands.

To find out more about all the different train companies who keep all the wheels on track in all of Great Britain, visit our train companies page.

Sleeper trains

If you're a night owl or want to save some time by travelling by night, then a sleeper train could be just the ticket. Sleeper trains are usually equipped with beds, washbasins, towels and air-conditioning, and have several travel classes onboard depending on your budget and requirements.

One of the most popular sleeper trains in the UK is the Caledonian Sleeper, which runs an overnight service from Edinburgh to London, and leaves from Aberdeen and Inverness. To search for Caledonian Sleeper services, check out our Sleepers Search page. For more information, check out our Caledonian Sleeper page.

Another popular sleeper train is the Night Riviera, which run overnight services from London to Penzance (Cornwall) and vice versa. Visit our Night Riviera page for more details.

Image credit: Neil Clarke. Northbound Night Riviera service at Paddington Station in the morning.

Airport transfers

If you're arriving in England, chances are you're going to land at one of London's main airports, which include Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted or City.

For example, you can get from Heathrow Airport to central London on a TfL Rail or Heathrow Express service – you'll get off at London Paddington station, from which you can easily reach your final destination. If you're landing at Gatwick Airport, you can take a Gatwick Express or a Southern train to London Victoria or a Thameslink train to London St Pancras. From Stansted Airport, you can take the Stansted Express and get off at London Liverpool Street station.

To see the full list of UK airports with train transfer services and to book online, check out our UK airports page.

On a budget? Travel by coach

If time isn't a factor, or you’re a penny pincher travelling on a budget, we can take you where you want to go by bus instead. There's an extensive bus and coach network in England which makes reaching the most remote and unique locations possible, and we’ve partnered with the UK’s largest bus/coach operator National Express to take you there.

Buses in the UK are usually cheaper than trains, but the journey time can be a little longer. As well as being an affordable option for travellers, most bus companies in the UK come equipped with all the modern onboard facilities that make bus journeys comfortable and hassle-free.

If you’re keen to explore your options, search for UK bus tickets here.

Train tickets in England

Now you've seen the possibilities, it's time to get to grips with train tickets in England. When booking your train tickets, you'll see a range of pricing options and ticket types available to you. Our table below explains what each ticket type means and when you can use them.   

English train ticket types

Ticket type Description
Advance tickets

If you know your exact travel dates, book Advance tickets ahead of schedule to reserve your seat.

Find out more about Advance train tickets.

Anytime tickets

Offers complete flexibility. Catch any applicable train at a time that suits you, although seats cannot be reserved and are not guaranteed.

Find out more about Anytime train tickets.

Off-Peak tickets

Travel at less busy times and benefit from reduced fares.

Discover more on Off-Peak train tickets.

Super Off-Peak tickets Like Off-Peak tickets but only available at the very quietest times of the day. Prices tend to be cheaper too.

Peak vs. Off-Peak travel

If you've got flexible travel plans, then travelling by train in Off-Peak times may save you some money. The main difference between Peak and Off-Peak tickets are all about what time(s) during the day you travel. Peak times vary from train operator to train operator but generally, they tend to be in the mornings and late afternoon times during busy commuting times on weekdays. Off-Peak tickets can usually be found outside of these times, such as in the middle of the day or later at night on weekdays, and on weekends and public holidays (known as bank holidays in England).

For more information, check out our Off-Peak train times and tickets page.

 

Flexible tickets

If you're a nomad who doesn't like to be tied down by exact travel dates and times, you can purchase flexible tickets to allow you to travel at any point of the day. In England they are normally called Anytime tickets (either Anytime Day or standard Anytime). You can get flexible tickets for travel on a certain date or ones that cover travel for multiple dates. They're usually a tad more expensive than fixed time tickets because they allow you to travel during Peak periods.

Note that if you book a flexible ticket and travel on a train without a reserved seat, you can only sit in a seat if it hasn’t been reserved by another passenger (as noted by a digital display above the window, or a printed paper reserved ticket attached to the chair).

For more details, visit our dedicated page to flexible train tickets.

One-way or return options

Like with airline travel, you have the option to book either one-way or a return ticket. If you're travelling out of town for a day trip, or you're returning to the same destination within a month by train, you can usually buy a ticket that is cheaper than two single one-way trips by selecting the return option. Selecting the Day Return (Anytime Day Return, Off-Peak Day Return etc.) option will allow you to take a trip to and from the same destinations in the same day, or a standard Return (Anytime Return, Off-Peak Return etc.) will normally allow you to travel back on your return journey within one calendar month of the date shown on your ticket.

Find out more about Return train tickets.

 

Standard or First Class

If you're looking for the most affordable train travel options, a standard ticket could be what you're after. Alternatively, if you're coming to England for a well-earned break, you can treat yourself and upgrade to a First Class ticket. Most train companies in the UK offer First Class tickets that come with bigger tables and extra legroom, with some including a meal and free WiFi access. First Class facilities depend on the route and the train company you're travelling with and are sometimes subject to availability.

Discover additional benefits of travelling First Class, or check out our guide to First Class train travel from London to Edinburgh.

 

Connections to inner-city public transport

In train stations in the many big cities in England, you'll find convenient bus, tram and subway connections to get you to your hotel or to catch another train if you're only passing through.

 

UK train timetables and schedules

Whether you're going from London to York by train or trying to get to one of England’s airports from a city centre, we'll show you live train times and schedules weeks in advance for any National Rail journey in Scotland, all in real time.

Get live train times in our app

By downloading our app, not only do you have your tickets in the palm of your hand, you also get access to live train times. If everything is running smoothly with your train, or it's delayed for some reason, you'll be the first to know. What's more – app users get platform information before those waiting by the departure boards.

Download our app

 

Live updates at the station

If you don't have our app, you'll find electronic departure boards in most stations' entrance halls, showing live updates, train times and platform information. All travel information will also be announced on a tannoy (loudspeaker) system in English.

Best way to buy train tickets in England

Buying your England train tickets online or on our app is the quickest way to get onboard. To speed up the process we've also got Mobile Ticket and eTicket options, or have a look at the other collection methods below.   

Cheap train travel in England

If you're after cheap train tickets in England, check out the hints below and see how you could bag yourself discounted train tickets. We'll even highlight the cheapest prices! Want to know how to get cheap same-day train tickets and other train discounts? Visit our last-minute train tickets page for our handy tips. 

Travel England by train

As well as the popular destinations, there are loads of amazing places you can visit by train in England, and the interconnected rail network makes travelling cross-country quick and easy. To find some inspiration on where to go, check out these highlights below. 

Cornwall

St Ives / Port Isaac / Newquay

The Celtic Kingdom of Cornwall is where land meets sea. Quintessentially English and picturesque, Cornwall is well-known for its magnificent coastline, 300 miles of dunes and cliffs, medieval harbours and oak-forested creeks. And of course, the yummy pasties. The views are so good from the trains in Cornwall that it made our list for the top 12 scenic train rides in the world not once, but twice!

Discover trains to Cornwall.

Devon

Exeter / Torquay / Barnstable

Welcome to Devon, the place for surfers and sun-worshippers and everyone in between. Be it Exeter,  Totnes, Plymouth or Dartmoor, a trip to Devon surprises and stimulates in equal measure. Enjoy wild and rugged scenery and a dose of the south coast on a journey of a lifetime.

Discover trains to Devon.

Lake District

Windermere / Ambleside / Keswick

"The Lakes" and "Lakeland" as it's also known, is a haven for explorers and hikers and those who like to get lost in nature. Situated in North West England, this National Park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, and a stay amongst the lakes, mountains and forests will reveal exactly why.  

Discover trains to the Lake District.

The North East

Newcastle / Middlesborough / Teeside

The North East is undergoing a major reinvention but you can still feel the presence of its reputation as the industrial heartland of England. Marvel at the magnificent Angel of the North sculpture and discover the area of England that inspired the writings of Bill Bryson.  

Discover trains to Newcastle.

Travelling from England to the rest of the UK

If you're travelling from abroad, you could seize the opportunity to explore other places in Great Britain from your base in England. Check out these incredible UK destinations you can reach by train.

Good to know

If you haven't already learnt enough, we've added these extra handy tips and FAQ's to make your life just that little bit sweeter.

On longer or more popular routes, you can usually reserve a seat if you book a ticket for a fixed time and request a seat allocation when you book. You can't choose your exact seat like you can when booking a plane ticket, but you can request services like an aisle or window seat, forward or rear-facing seat, a seat in the quiet carriage, a table seat, or a seat near a toilet. Please note that these services are requested, but can never be guaranteed. If a seat booking is available, you will see it in your basket on the payment screen on our site I.e. Coach B, seat 48 (Window).

If you book a flexible ticket, you may be given the option to reserve a seat and travel time for your outbound journey, but you won't be guaranteed a reserved seat if you don't travel on the train you've booked the ticket for. Many trains have unreserved sections allocated, so you'll need to board the train and walk through the carriages to look for a seat without a printed ticket slip (usually found attached to the headrest). Some seats may only be reserved for a smaller portion of the journey, so if there's a printed slip on the seat and nobody is sitting in it, you maybe be able to sit there for some of the journey if the passenger is getting on at a later stop.

Children under the age of five can travel for free with a fare-paying adult however it doesn’t always mean they're guaranteed a seat. On busy trains, infants may have to travel on the lap of the adult to make room for other passengers. For 5-15 year old's, there are half-priced tickets available on selected routes but a proof of age may be required when you travel. Be sure to select the "child" option in the journey planner when you're booking.

You can travel with three items of luggage per person on most trains in England. This usually means you can take two suitcases and a piece of hand luggage. Additional articles such as surfboards and bicycles may be taken for a fee and are subject to space availability. For peace of mind, it's best to contact the train company ahead to make sure you can travel with these extra items.

Yes. In some major train stations in England like London Victoria or Manchester Piccadilly there may be places where you can store your luggage. While some smaller stations don't have this facility, to find out which stations have luggage storage facilities, visit our UK train stations page.

 

You can only break your journey provided you haven't bought an Advance ticket. If you're going from say, London to Bristol, one of your calling points would be the ancient city of Bath. At this station, or any others along the way, you'd be free to get off and explore for a few hours. After that, simply hop on the next available train and continue on your way.

For more information visit the National Rail Conditions of Travel page.

If you want to make multiple journeys during your stay in England, you have three options. A BritRail England Pass which covers the whole country, a BritRail South West Pass or a BritRail London Plus Pass. They give you an affordable and flexible way to explore England and can take the stress out of buying individual tickets. 

Learn more about BritRail passes.

*All post-sale care and communications will be with the third party booking company.

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